On April 2, 2020, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) launched the $200 million Coronavirus (COVID-19) Telehealth Program contemplated in the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act. The Telehealth Program is distinguishable from the broader Connected Care Pilot Program, which will make an additional $100 million in federal universal service funds available for telehealth over the next three years.

Telehealth Program

Notwithstanding telehealth’s advantages, most low-income Americans are unable to utilize telehealth services due to their lack of consistent, broadband internet connection. Furthermore, some providers are limited in their ability to treat patients via telehealth due to the substantial financial and IT investment in developing connected care programs (e.g., purchase of remote patient monitoring devices, telehealth software platforms). The purpose of the Telehealth Program is to support healthcare providers in urban and rural areas, that are responding to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic by maximizing their provision of connected care services and devices. The Telehealth Program will help eligible healthcare providers purchase telecommunications services, information services and devices necessary to provide critical connected care services.

For purposes of the Telehealth Program and Connected Care Pilot Program, “connected care services” are defined as a subset of telehealth that uses broadband internet access service-enabled technologies to deliver care to patients at their mobile location or residence. Only internet-connected devices are covered, not unconnected devices that require the patient to communicate the results to their provider.

Funding will be awarded on a rolling basis until funds are exhausted or the coronavirus pandemic ends. To maximize the $200 million, the FCC anticipates limiting each applicant to $1 million in funding. Further, the FCC has indicated an interest in prioritizing funding to areas especially hard-hit by the coronavirus.

Eligible Healthcare Providers


Continue Reading $200 Million of Funding for COVID-19 Telehealth Program

Last week, the US Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit issued a long-awaited decision on an omnibus challenge to the FCC’s interpretation of the TCPA. While the decision provides some relief for businesses, it does not eliminate the prospect of TCPA liability and leaves important TCPA interpretive questions unresolved. Businesses should continue to be

In an age where providers are increasingly taking the management of their patient’s health online and out of the doctor’s office, the creation of scalable and nimble patient engagement tools can serve to improve patient experience, health care outcomes and health care costs. While the level of enthusiasm for these tools is at an all-time high, there is a growing concern about the unexpected deterrent to the adoption of these tools from an unlikely source: the Telephone Consumer Protection Act of 1991 (TCPA).

Many professionals in the health industry have come to share two misconceptions about the TCPA: first, that the TCPA only applies to marketing phone calls or text message “spam,” and second, that the TCPA does not apply to communications from HIPAA covered entities to their patients/health plan members. These misconceptions can be costly mistakes for covered entities that have designed their patient engagement outreach programs without include a TCPA compliance strategy.

Compliance Challenges

As discussed in a previous post, the TCPA was originally intended to curb abusive telemarketing calls. When applying the law to smarter and increasingly innovative technologies (especially those that we see in the patient engagement world), the TCPA poses significant compliance challenges for the users of these tools that arguably threaten to curb meaningful progress on important public health and policy goals.

Despite its initial scope of addressing robocalls, the TCPA also applies to many automated communications between health care providers and their patients, and between plans and their members. There is a diverse array of technical consent requirements that apply depending on what type of phone call you make. For instance, most auto-dialed marketing calls to cell phones require prior express written consent, meaning that the caller must first obtain written consent before making the call. To make compliance more compliance, callers remain responsible for proving consent and the accuracy of the numbers dialed.

Indeed, the TCPA presents a serious challenge for patient engagement tools, especially when violations of the TCPA can yield statutory damages of up to $1,500 per call or text message. While Federal Communications Commission orders over the past several years have added some clarity and a “safe harbor” for HIPAA-covered entities to help entities achieve compliance, there is still no “free pass” from the TCPA’s requirements. Therefore, covered entities and the business associates who work for them should not assume that compliance with HIPAA offers any security of defense against a successful claim under the TCPA.


Continue Reading The TCPA: An Unexpected Deterrent to Patient Engagement Tools

Radio and television stations, as well as their audiences, have reason to celebrate. Last week, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) announced significant updates to its regulations regarding the disclosure of material terms associated with promotional contests and sweepstakes conducted by television and radio broadcast stations. Since 1976, Section 73.1216 of the FCC rules (the Contest

The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) released its Cybersecurity Framework (Framework) almost 15 months ago and charged critical infrastructure companies within the United States to improve their cybersecurity posture. Without question, the Framework has sparked a national conversation about cybersecurity and the controls necessary to improve it.  With regulators embracing the Framework, industry

Thursday, April 30, 2015, marks the last day a business can request a retroactive waiver for failing to comply with certain fax advertising requirements promulgated by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). The scope of these requirements was clarified on October 30, 2014, when the FCC issued an Order (2014 Order) under the Junk Fax Prevention

A recent ruling by the Ninth Circuit took an expansive view of vicarious liability under the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA).  Reversing the district court’s grant of summary judgment, the court in Gomez v. Campbell held that a marketing consultant could be held liable for text messages sent in violation of the TCPA, even though

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC)’s Report and Order 12-21 (Order 12-21), issued in February 2012, describes revised telemarketing rules that became effective during the past 12 months.

The FCC’s telemarketing rules are issued under the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) and apply to a telephone call to a residential landline or wireless number or a